Owners of Chinese Restaurants in Rio Rancho and Santa Fe Plead Guilty to Harboring Illegal Aliens and Violating Minimum and Overtime Wage Laws
ALBUQUERQUE – Wen Ping Chen, 29, and his brother Wen Qiu Chen, 31, each pled guilty this morning to harboring an illegal alien and violating the federal minimum and overtime wage laws.
Ping Chen and Qiu Chen, both naturalized U.S. Citizens born in China, were arrested in Aug. 2013, following an investigation into allegations that they were harboring illegal aliens who worked at their restaurants, the Double Dragon Restaurant in Rio Rancho, N.M., which is owned and operated by Ping Chen, and the Double Dragon II, in Santa Fe, N.M., which is owned and operated by Qiu Chen. The brothers subsequently were charged in a seven-count superseding indictment alleging conspiracy, alien harboring, and failing to pay minimum and overtime wages.
According to court filings, in Oct. 2012, federal agents executed search warrants at the Double Dragon and a Rio Rancho residence owned by Ping Chen and Qiu Chen. The agents found three illegal aliens at the Double Dragon and another illegal alien in the residence, which served as the residence for all four aliens. All four illegal aliens worked for Ping Chen at the Double Dragon without authorization.
In May 2013, federal agents executed search warrants at the Double Dragon II and a Santa Fe residence owned by Qiu Chen, and found five illegal aliens at the Double Dragon II. The agents learned that all of the Double Dragon II employees resided in the Santa Fe residence owned by Qiu Chen. The five illegal aliens worked for Qiu Chen at the Double Dragon II without authorization.
Today Qui Chen pled guilty to Counts 5 and 7 of the superseding indictment charging him with harboring an illegal alien and failing to pay minimum and overtime wages. Ping Chen pled guilty to Counts 3 and 7 charging him with harboring an illegal aliens and failure to pay minimum and overtime wages.
The parties have agreed to recommend that the court sentence the two men to probationary sentences. Under the terms of their plea agreements, the defendants will pay restitution as ordered by the court and will forfeit assets derived from or used in the commission of their crimes. Sentencing hearings have yet to be scheduled.
This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of HSI and the U.S. Department of Labor, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Norman Cairns and Raquel Ruiz-Velez.